Over the centuries there has been a stream of rabbis, preachers and
prophets claiming to "have the truth." Today many religious
sects and denominations claim to "have the truth," and that you can only
find God's salvation by joining and staying with them. Some are subtle in
emphasizing this claim, while others are more bold. People are encouraged and taught
to put their trust, time, and money into these "religious" groups.
Such groups often exert control and direction over the spiritual lives of their
members, through "charismatic leaders or prophets." Any group that exhibits these characteristics is a
"religious cult." God created you with the ability to think
and reason. So beware of following some group or someone who seem to
have all the answers. Read the Scriptures for yourself, asking God
for understanding and the meaning.
A major factor that causes people to seek
a "true religion" is an inner need and desire for acceptance by
God and others.
Many people with unresolved "self-worth issues" are attracted to
groups that present a message of religious superiority. These people want to join
and belong to such organizations, hoping to "certify" their standing with
and others. Being validated by a "true religion" breeds a strong sense of
commitment and pride, even to the point of blind obedience. As people are
indoctrinated, it becomes very difficult for them to leave those organizations because of
their own unfulfilled spiritual needs.
Some in the Jewish and
Christian communities label Messianic Judaism as an aberration of orthodox
Judaism and Christianity. But is this really the case? Let's
look at Christianity, Rabbinic Judaism, and Messianic Judaism from a
The Development of Orthodox Christianity
There are Christians
today who teach
a teaching that says "God is finished with the Jewish people, and all the
promises God made concerning Israel now belong to the Church." In
contrast the teaching known as dispensationalism,
teaches that God has interrupted His dealings with Israel to deal with the
Church, and after the Church Age, God will then deal again with Israel.
This gentile theology is similar in affect.
Formulations of these doctrinal teachings began
in the Christian Church with
Origen of Alexandria, an early church father and philosopher (185-254
C.E.). He began to interpret and teach that all of Gods covenants with
Israel were now the sole possession of the Christians.
Roman Emperor Constantine issued the
Edict of Milan in 313 C.E. making Christianity the state religion, Roman Catholicism
developed their hierarchical structure that endured largely unchallenged until the
Reformation. By the 3rd century, the Roman bishops had become the primary authorities
within the church. 2
By the time of
Roman Catholic Church was teaching that the Church was to have dominion and authority
throughout the world. During the Middle Ages, the Roman Church held authority over
virtually all the rulers of Europe. History witnesses that this was one of the most
oppressive periods of so-called Christianity towards those not in the Catholic Church. 3
Out of the
Council of Nicaea, fourth
century, came a declaration that that new believers accepting Yeshua must renounce
everything Jewish. As a result, Christianity dropped Jewish practices and began to
reinterpret the Bible in a way that affirmed their "new religion" and
practices. Much of what we see in Christianity today is a result of what happened
approximately 1600 years ago in Rome.
Aside from "replacement theology," we
find Christians who teach "two covenant" theology. A theology that says
God is dealing with the Jewish people under the ancient covenants He made with Israel, and
God is dealing with gentiles under a "new covenant." Interesting theology,
since the "new covenant" of the New Testament is based upon the prophecy of
Jeremiah 31:30-33 where it says
"I will make a new
covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Y'hudah... I will put my Torah
within them and write it on their hearts."
Where does this promise say anything about making
a "new covenant" with the Gentiles? In fact, Rabbi Shaul (Paul)
says this in Romans 15:27,
"for if the Gentiles
have shared with the Jews in spiritual matters, then the Gentiles clearly have a duty to
help the Jews in material matters." Shaul
(Paul) also writes
in Romans 11:11-27 that the Gentiles are grafted into the Jewish olive tree and should not
be boastful about their situation over the natural branches who are the Jews.
Over the centuries, Christianity has sought to
define itself outside the promises God made to Israel. This has resulted in
teachings that have created more division and separation within the Kingdom of
Is it any wonder there are so many denominations and sects within Christianity?
All because the "Church" has forgotten the Jewish roots of its
The Development of Rabbinic Judaism
With the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. and
the subsequent scattering of Jewish people in 132-135 C.E., the Pharisees became the
religious leaders of Judaism, replacing other groups in Judaism that had existed prior to (i.e.
Zealots). The Sadducees disappeared with the destruction of
the Temple because most of them had served in the capacity of priests.
After the Temple was destroyed,
Zakkai built a center for study. He taught his followers,
"do not be grieved (at the Temple ruins), for we have another means
of atonement as effective as this. And what is it? Deeds of compassion, as it
is said in Hosea 6:6, 'For I desire mercy not sacrifice.'" With
the destruction of the Temple and the sacrificial system for sin, the rabbis began to look
for new explanations and developed a new teaching to replace the need for blood
atonement. They began to de-emphasize sacrifice for sin, and instead began
emphasizing performing good deeds as a substitute.
Religious leadership (the priesthood)
was no longer based upon hereditary authority, but rather on individual learning.
Rabbi Judah the Prince edited and promulgated the
Mishnah (Oral Torah) about 200
C.E. Yeshiva schools were established for the study of the Scriptures, Mishnah and
the Gemara - commentaries on the Torah based upon inference, deductions, comparison,
and logical reasoning.
During the fourth century, rabbis edited the
Palestinian Talmud. By the end of the fifth century, the Babylonian Talmud was
completed, consisting of the Mishnah and Gemara.
(prayer books) were also developed for
prayer, because the Temple and its services were gone.
During the sixth century, Midrashim were
developed. The Midrashim were commentaries on the Torah. Between the sixth and
eighteenth centuries, Judaism expanded along three main lines: legal, philosophical,
Two prominent rabbis of the Middle Ages (11th
-13th centuries) were
Solomon ben Isaac (Rashi) and
Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides
- Rambam). Rashi wrote a commentary on most of the Talmud and Rambam wrote
commentaries on the Mishnah (Mishnah Torah). One must keep in mind that the
"Christian Crusades" were also occurring during this time and there was an
effort within Judaism to rebuff the teachings of Christianity, namely the messianic claims
In the sixteenth century there was the
Kabbalah - Jewish mysticism. This was a philosophical effort to deal
with the questions of good and evil, the nature of creation, and the relationship of
to the world.
In the seventeenth century we see
forming. Their emphasis was on a mystical way to finding God; fervor in prayer; joy in
living; and intense appreciation of all manifestations of the divine in the world.
The movement was founded by Israel
Baal Shem Tov (Besht). They were opposed by
other intellectual Jews who emphasized the primacy of learning over direct experience of
the divine in religious life. Today there is a flourishing group known as
that combines both learning and experience in their religious life. There
are other hasidic groups as well.
During the eighteenth century,
Reform Judaism began to develop. Basically it rejected the authoritative character of traditional Jewish
law as formulated in the Talmud. It also rejected a study of the Jewish prophets and
belief in a personal messiah. Rather it's leaders taught the concept of a messianic
age that would someday arrive. They also emphasize and are concerned with social
justice and ethics, universal peace and brotherhood.
In the nineteenth century,
Judaism grew in an effort to adapt Jewish law to modern conditions. Through
it's own research it determined what elements of Judaism were essential and what might be
Also during this time was a rise of
Orthodoxy. This Judaism affirms the Torah and teaches that it should not
be judged by modern external cultural criteria. It teaches that through the
discipline of the Torah one can be trained toward a higher moral and ethical standard,
while at the same time fully participating in the current culture.
In the past century, we find the development of
Humanism forms of Judaism. These are in response to the times
in which we live and they emphasize the evolving civilization of the Jewish people and
human and social issues of the present day.
As you can see from this brief historical
overview, Rabbinical Judaism as it observed today is quite different then the Judaism of
2,000 years ago, the Judaism before the destruction of the Temple. It is a Judaism
that also has produced theological differences in understanding and practice.
People - Israel
God chose to demonstrate His righteousness
to the nations through the changed lives of individuals. Israel was chosen by
deliver His message of salvation.
"Now if you pay
careful attention to what I say and keep my covenant, then you will be my own treasure
from among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you will be a kingdom of
cohanim (priests) for me, a nation set apart." (Exodus 19:5-6)
The historical account in the Bible tells us that
many in Israel refused to accept Gods plan of salvation, not only for themselves,
but for the nations. This history was foretold in Deuteronomy chapters 28-30 with the
blessings and the curses that would befall Israel. But it also speaks about a restoration
of Israel. The prophecies in the Tanakh speak of a remnant of Israel who have always
remained faithful to God.
say, isn't it that God has repudiated his people? Heaven forbid!
For I myself
am a son of Israel, from the seed of Abraham,
of the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not
repudiated his people,
whom he chose in advance. Or don't you know what the
Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures)
says about Elijah?
He pleads with God against Israel, 'Adonai,
they have killed
your prophets and torn down your altars,
and I am the only one left, and now they want to
kill me too.'
But what is God's answer to him? 'I have kept for myself
thousand men who have not knelt down to Baal'.
It is the same way in the present
there is a remnant, chosen by grace."
The Nature of God's Kingdom
kingdom is spiritual, not political.
will know that I am with Israel and the I am Adonai your God, and that there is no other.
Then my people will never again be shamed. After this, I will pour out my
Spirit on all humanity... At that time, whoever calls on the name of Adonai will be
(Joel 2:27; 3:1,5)
you are a chosen people, the King's priests, a holy nation, a people for God to
possess! Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called
you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now
you are God's people."
(1 Peter 2:9-10)
kingdom is for all people.
has made known his victory; revealed his vindication in full view of the nations,
remembered his grace and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the
earth have seen the victory of our God." (Psalm 98:2-3)
"Here is my servant, whom I support, my
chosen one, in whom I take pleasure. I have put my Spirit on him; he
will bring justice to the gentiles... I, Adonai, called you righteously, I took hold of you by the hand. I
shaped you and made you a covenant for the people; to be a light for the Goyim, so that
you can open blind eyes, and free the prisoners from confinement, those living in darkness
from the dungeon."
(Isaiah 42:1, 6-7)
"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor freeman, neither
male nor female; for in union with the Messiah Yeshua, you are all one. Also, if you
belong to the Messiah, you are seed of Abraham and heirs according to the promise."
kingdom is an everlasting one.
kingdom lasts forever, and he rules all generations." (Daniel
3:33) "For he is the living God; and he endures
forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed; his rulership will last till the end."
(Daniel 6:27) "Therefore,
since we have received an unshakable Kingdom, let us have grace, through
which we may offer service that will please God, with reverence and fear."
Gods kingdom is comprised of one people of one
belief and obedience. But sin separates and prevents people from entering that kingdom.
Gods people, from Adam to the present, consists of all believers who accept
Gods righteousness by faith. Faith is simply believing and trusting
salvation. Hebrews 11 reminds us that Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob,
Joseph, Moses Rahab, Gideon, Samson, Samuel, and David all lived by faith in
religious works. Faith consists of three elements: belief, trust, and action. Belief
is acceptance of Gods salvation provided through the Messiah. Trust is a willingness
to live our lives Gods way. Action is our loving obedience toward God and his
Word. Does your faith in God cause you to question the traditions and teachings of
men? Are you willing to walk by faith, relying on the Bible alone? Are you part of
Gods spiritual kingdom?
Rav Sha'ul (Paul) describes how the
Gentiles who accept Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah are grafted into the Jewish olive
tree. They receive their nourishment from the roots of the olive tree, and are therefore
spiritually part of the House of Israel. John 4:22-26 says that salvation for the
Gentiles has come through the Jewish Messiah and the nation of Israel.
"I say, 'Isn't
it that Israel stumbled with the result that
they have permanently fallen away?'
Quite the contrary...
And if the root is holy, so are the
But if some of the branches (Israel) were broken off,
and you - a wild
olive (gentiles) - were grafted in among
them and have become equal sharers in the rich
root of the
olive tree, then don't boast as if you were better than the branches...
It is a stoniness, to a degree, has come upon Israel,
until the gentile world enters in
and that it is in this way that all Israel will be saved.
As the Tanakh says, 'Out of Zion will come the Redeemer;
he will turn away ungodliness from
Jacob and this will be
my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.'" (Isaiah 59)
With respect to the Good News they are hated for your sake.
respect to being chosen they are loved for the
Patriarchs' sake, for God's free gifts and
his calling are irrevocable."
Reading the Torah during Feast of Tabernacles
"Finally, everyone remaining from all the nations
that came to attack Jerusalem will go up every year to
worship the King, Adonai, Lord of Hosts,
keep the festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles)."
Messianic Judaism and the Bible
Messianic Judaism is a call to return to the
God of the
Bible, the God of creation, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is a call to
discover the roots of our religious faith and heritage. Messianic Judaism is not
Orthodox Christianity or Rabbinic Judaism, but rather a Biblical Judaism. A Judaism that
encourages the study of the Bible, asking God's Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to
reveal the truth of His Word. Unfortunately, many people would rather follow the teachings
of religious rabbis and ministers, rather than seeking and studying the Word of
themselves. Messianic Judaism is a movement toward sound biblical teaching that
reflects our Jewish roots and recognizes Yeshua the Messiah.
The Bible is clear about what will happen to those
masquerading as spiritual leaders who go around deceiving people.
no! The shepherds are destroying and scattering the sheep in my pasture, says
Adonai... I will take care of you because of your evil deeds, says Adonai."
(Jeremiah 23:1-2). And Paul wrote,
we are not like a lot of folks who go about huckstering God's message for a fee; on the
contrary, we speak out of a sincere heart." (2 Corinthians 2:17)
Ask God to show you the meaning of a
biblical passage in relation to other passages of Scripture. This will keep you from
embracing faulty interpretations and conclusions. Use the following principles to
guide you as you read and study the Bible.
are we to know if a word has not been spoken by Adonai? When a prophet speaks in the
name of Adonai, and the prediction does not come true - that is, the word is not fulfilled
- then Adonai did not speak that word. The prophet who said it spoke presumptuously;
you have nothing to fear from him."
18:21-22). Do not accept
the teachings of false prophets. Beware of those who do!
"Every word of God is
pure; he shields those taking refuge in him. Do not add anything to
his words; or he will rebuke you, and you, found a liar."
(Proverbs 30:5-6). Using outside writings to interpret the Bible can
lead to wrong interpretations and beliefs. After all, other writings are mere
commentary and interpretations of men. Avoid treating commentary as equal
"So when they tell you
to consult those squeaking, squawking mediums and fortune-tellers; you are
to answer, 'Shouldn't a people seek their God? Must the living ask the
dead for teaching and instruction? For they will indeed give you this
(Isaiah 8:19-20). Do not seek
advice or teaching from sources God admonishes us to avoid. Use the Bible
alone as your
foundation of faith and practice.
joining Adonai should not say,
'Adonai will separate me from his people (Israel)...
the foreigners who join themselves to Adonai to serve him,
to love the name of Adonai, and to be his workers,
all who keep Shabbat and do not profane it,
and hold fast to my covenant,
I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them
joyful in my house of prayer."
Isaiah 56:3, 6-7
So much for Christian
According to the Scriptures, such teachings are wrong and bad theology.
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